The Dark Mark

I’ve always lived a rather sheltered life, I must admit. Sure, not always simple, easy, or fair, but safe and secure in every way that counted. I was never scared or afraid or aware of the darker elements of this world.
J.K. Rowling has a term in the world of Harry Potter called The Dark Mark, referring to a symbol of evil in the wizarding world, but this was no made up world. This was no work of children’s fiction.. The small town where I lived would lose what innocence we thought we had, five years ago, on that April day. Evil would creep into our world, forever leaving its mark.
It was a cool but sunny early spring day. I went about my morning as usual, not realizing something could be going on in my neighbourhood until I began to hear the sound of airplanes flying low above my house. This seemed strangely out-of-place to me and I wondered, commented to my sister on what it could mean.
By late that afternoon I was no longer left to wonder.
A full search was on for a young child in the area. People were going door to door. Yards and sheds were being searched. A panic had begun to spread around town, and rightfully so.
I naively thought no evil could find its way into my little town. It was the kind of evil to harm an innocent little child, openly on the streets of the town, in broad daylight. This could not, would never happen here, yet it had.
Nobody had seen it happen and the child’s whereabouts remained a mystery for weeks, hope remaining alive, until all hopes were horribly dashed. Our sleepy little town would never, in my opinion and in other peoples’, be the same again – that safe community to raise a family and to let children walk the streets alone. Walking home from school had been a pastime of growing up, yet now it was where evil had lain in wait.
It was hard to accept that this could happen here. Maybe in a large city miles away, but not here. Things like this didn’t happen here. The monsters wouldn’t dare come here.
The town would hold its children a little tighter that spring and all eyes were watchful. People grew much more suspicious of strangers. The details would end up being like something out of a horror movie. A dark mark,a black cloud had rolled in over our heads here.
Five years later and we’re still raw. At this time of year I feel a nagging sadness, an anxiety, and an ache somewhere inside of me, for a family I don’t know, a child none of us could help, and a community never to return to the days of innocence we once knew.
I am a part of the neighbourhood forever to be known as the place where this terrible and unspeakable crime, act of pure evil was perpetrated. It was a mere few blocks from where I call home; parks, schools, are not the safe places for children that they should be.
On the anniversary of these darkest of days, forever to be a mark in our history, I feel the urge to move, to leave the house I have grown to love. I know in reality there is no place I can run from these thoughts, but I still feel them somewhere inside myself.
I want to run and hide and take my family with me. I want to run somewhere where my little niece and nephews and other children wouldn’t ever have to worry about the risks this world poses, when walking to and from school. I know there is nowhere in this world safe from the possible evil which exists in our world. I stop myself from letting my mind wander to where it dares to wander on this day, when I think about what I would do to anyone who would dare to attempt to mess with the children in my life because truthfully my love for them is so strong that there’s nothing I wouldn’t do, no line I would not cross for them. My mind threatens to splinter when I try to imagine what the family of this lost child has had to do in order to cope with their grief and anger. The children in our lives deserve to be protected from the evil which threatens our neighbourhoods and our communities and our world.
My first instinct was not to write about this: whether because I felt it wasn’t my place, that I wasn’t directly affected, or that this topic was too horrible to speak openly about. It was then that I didn’t want to say nothing and let my feelings fester, kept hidden because maybe this was too horrible to talk about. I am not ashamed of my town and the people in it. On days like these it is also just as important to remember the human decency and goodness, the light, which I still believe trumps the dark. The mark on my town will never be washed away again, but the humanity and neighbourhood support and tight-knit spirit I can feel all over town.
At a time like this I am still surrounded by my family and reminded of the kind of love that does still exist. When the one who is sick is the one to bring others flowers, that is what decency means. When family goes out of its way to step up during times of trouble, that’s what decency looks like. These things can never be eclipsed by the evil which sometimes threatens to shadow everything else. I have to believe that the good will overwhelm the truly evil in this world, and that the children that I love and those loved by others will not know one moment of fear. My town and our world are places where we can once again know goodness and love; it’s all around us.